1. Iger’s Plans For Disneyflix and Hulu
During Disney’s earnings call last week, Bob Iger let us know we could all just stop calling it “Disneyflix” as the official name was going to be Disney Plus, or “Disney+” as the logo would have it. He also filled us in on his plans for both Disney+ and Hulu.
Why It Matters
No one was really sure what Disney was planning to do with Hulu, so Iger’s comments were quite enlightening.
ICYMI, what he said was they were going to double down on Hulu, making it their primary outlet for programming aimed at more adult audiences (e.g., FX) and that they would look to promote Hulu overseas as well.
In addition, Disney will be spending money to add to Hulu’s slate of original programming, shows like Handmaid’s Tale, which have helped the network make inroads against Netflix.
Hulu also has a very sizable content library much bigger than Netflix’s, and unlike the red-logo’d giant, Hulu’s library content owners are unlikely to want to pull their library content back, given that many of them are part owners in the service.
And while Hulu technically loses a lot of money, the math on that is tricky: while Hulu loses money buying content, the money is transferred to the companies that own Hulu, where it’s reflected as income, so the losses are more a bookkeeping thing than a “they’re bleeding us dry” thing.
Disney+ will be their home to family-oriented entertainment—it will be home to a number of franchises including Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm/Star Wars and, National Geographic. There will be original series based on Star Wars and High School Musical, among others.
The one thing Iger did not mention was the price and monetization model for Disney+. Observers (your friends at TVREV included) are anxious to see whether Disney will make + a purely SVOD service with no commercials (something that may go down well with parental units) or whether they’ll go for a hybrid system a la Hulu, where there’s one level with a limited ad load and another that’s ad free.
We’re assuming that Iger has yet to figure that one out himself, as there are clear advantages and disadvantages to both, but were you to put a gun to our heads (please don’t) we’d bet on the hybrid system, as it’s hard to pass on all that extra income, and consumers are getting used to the notion of paying for subscriptions and still having to watch commercials.
What You Need To Do About It
Right now, there’s not much you can do, other than have faith in Hulu. Iger did not mention what he’s planning to do about Comcast’s 30% and AT&T’s 10% stakes in Hulu—will he buy them out? Bring them in? There have been rumors that Warner Media is reaching out to Comcast to lure them over to Warnerflix, but those are just rumors which, given the source, may or may not be true, and Comcast may or may not be interested, especially if they have OTT plans of their own. Or plans to make nice with Disney and go through Hulu after all.
We’ll find out soon enough, but in the interim, if you’re an advertiser, Hulu’s not going anywhere and their reduced ad load and reliance on the latest data driven tactics make them an exceptionally good bet, especially if you’ve been wanting to start exploring the magical world of OTT.
2. Roku’s Advertising Model Still Makes Sense
Roku has been very clever about shifting its business model from selling devices to selling ads. While they don’t sell Hulu or CBS All Access, they do sell hundreds of other stations and are able to use their data to target audiences via programmatic addressable buys.
Why It Matters
Wall Street doesn’t understand Roku and keeps sending their numbers south every time they miss a revenue projection. But they’re still growing their ad business, the Roku Channel and other free ad-supported platforms are booming, and Roku has been working with many of the most advanced “TV tech” platforms to make the (extremely complicated) process of buying OTT simpler while providing better results and proving out ROI.
While some may complain that Roku’s programmatic methodology puts them at risk of running spots on barely professionally-produced platforms, the meteoric rise of larger ad supported platforms like Roku TV makes that much less of an issue.
What You Need To Do About It
If you’re an advertiser, take a look at what Roku is up to. It’s a great way to begin experimenting with all of the latest techniques around buying television advertising, from advanced and interactive creative units to audience targeting and segmentation. It’s all stuff you’re going to have to learn about someday soon anyway, so why not experiment now, while the market is still relatively nascent and the stakes are not quite so high?